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percentage rate of contraction

Jul 29, 2001

Having had unprotected sex(vaginal) with someone who is HIV+, what is the percentage rate of contracting the virus? The duration of the sex was only a matter of minutes, does this make any difference?

Response from Mr. Kull

There are many factors that will make a difference in the likelihood of HIV transmission. Some of these factors may be more observable and measurable than others. For instance, wearing a condom is a clear way to protect yourself from infection. You can observe things about the condom on your own; the condom was on or not on, the condom was intact or ripped.

The duration of unprotected sex is not a reliable way to determine your risk for infection. How many minutes of exposure does it take for someone to get infected? There is probably no way to determine this for every situation. And what does "a matter of minutes mean"? Research does not provide much useful information around this, for good reason.

Mucous membrane-HIV infected sexual fluid contact is enough to put you at risk for infection. This does not mean that if you start having unprotected sex with someone that you should throw in the towel. Clearly, if you can, there could be some benefit if you stopped and then put on a condom.

For information about per contact risk, see my response to "Recent Study of Per Contact Risk" (


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